Tag Archives: accidents

Winding up, winding down

How do you capture the flavour of 366 days in a few words? Issued the challenge, I’d have to go with: Work intense. Writing irregular. Friendships strong. Cycling legs good. A curveball (or wake-up call) to end the year…

But that doesn’t really cut the mustard, does it? If it means anything, it’s probably only to yours truly. The rest of you deserve better.

So, at the risk of boring any regular readers, let’s recap a tad. The tiny company I’ve worked with for over a decade, the same mob that’s given me the flexibility to be an author when the Muse sings and a public speaker when schools, libraries and festivals come calling, was taken over twice in 18 months. From my POV that involved adapting to approximately three successive sets of managers and a morass of policies, procedures and paperwork easily the equivalent of this. Or this.

There are definite upsides to working for a juggernaut entity but survival in a large organisation means striving harder to be seen. In the past two years I’ve taken on two massive and rewarding projects – but have had to wind back on being an author and speaker. I’m hoping to adjust the balance soon.

Work aside, this year has served up some considerable challenges. There was the phone call that let me know my parents had been hit head-on by a recidivist careless(!) driver, health scares for friends, the text message in the middle of the night that suggested other friends may be splitting up and the test result that delivered a personal wake-up call.

Daunting in far more positive ways have been the commitment to raise over $2500 and ride 200km plus for cancer research (mission accomplished – thank you all), finding the right secondary school for the Little Dragon (fingers crossed) and working on proposals for two new novels (in progress). I loved touring regional Victoria for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival. Working with students studying Five Parts Dead was good fun, too. On the bike I’ve clocked up 4825 km in 2012 so far, which has to be a PB.

A particular 2012 highlight was the night I spent acting as a prompt for Impro Melbourne creativity. Over the course of the night I read three passages from my work and left the impro experts to run with whatever ideas occurred to them, based on my readings. The third passage I chose was from a speculative fiction manuscript I’m working on and, not only did the actors enjoy it, I had audience members approach me and ask where they could buy the book. That’s what you want to hear about an unfinished work. Confidence can be a fleeting thing and any boost is a bonus.

And so to my traditional end of year lists. Because work has dominated the year, I haven’t read, watched or listened as much as usual. I’ve probably forgotten favourites but here are those that sprang to mind as I prepared this post:

TV: It’s been a big year for Glee at my place, courtesy of the Little Dragon singing lead in his school rockband. Once the kids slide into sleep, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed ABC productions such as Rake and back seasons of Deadwood and Friday Night Lights.

Movies: Apart from Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, which was great fun if a tad long, I haven’t had many magical cinema moments this year. The Dark Knight Rises was solid but didn’t quite deliver to the expectations of this Frank Miller fan. Take This Waltz lodged in my head for quite a while but my favourite films for 2012 were Paul Kelly: Stories of Me and the utterly wonderful Hugo (based on the prize-winning book).

Reading: I’m immersed in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire series (aka Game of Thrones) to the detriment of all other titles. Other reading highlights include: David Almond’s Skellig; the marvellously consistent Bob Graham’s A Bus Called Heaven; Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones; The Rider by Tim Krabbe; and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. There’s a few tears in that list.

Music: Apart from the aforementioned Glee, there’s been limited time for music this year, sadly. Albums that did strike a chord include: Metals by Feist; All the Little Lights by Passenger; Spring & Fall by Paul Kelly; and Wrecking Ball by Bruce Springsteen. (Late arrivals I’m currently enjoying are Of Monsters & Men’s My Head is an Animal (very Arcade Fire) and Chet Faker’s Thinking in Textures).

Thank you to everyone who has visited this blog, read my books and supported me in 2012. Your faith and friendship is appreciated.

New Year’s Eve update: Having managed some downtime in the past few weeks and in the wake of a visit by the jolly bearded gent I am belatedly entering the universe of Chris Ware. This is storytelling on a whole new level, best tackled by emotionally resilient and visually adventurous readers. It’s jaw-droppingly good.

Finally, thank you to everyone who supported the National Year of Reading. From where I’m sitting it’s been such a success we should do it all again. Starting tomorrow.

Mr Bump goes where the doors don’t hurt

Character development? Bah, humbug. Mr Bump learns nothing and laughs in the face of danger.

He packs his swag and heads to the very same surf beach where his nose, mouth and spine, got so messed up last Australia Day. He dons the boardies, grits his teeth with determination and charges out into the pounding surf…

The second time he gets dumped and smashed into the shallow water he thinks, “I really should be a tad more cautious. I’ll start right after I catch the next wave.”

So perhaps there are signs of maturity emerging. Maybe.

Actually, one advantage of defying the doctors and camping on a public holiday is if a tent door falls on you it doesn’t hurt so much.

Mr Bump considers his next move

So there’s this character I’m working on, right? He’s a bit of a dreamer, a tad impatient and prone to rushing into stuff without thinking things through. As a result, he gets into strife occasionally. Even gets hurt. Here are some scenes from storyboarding his life:

Australia Day 2008
Setting: Front of house. Car with fully laden trailer.

Mr Bump is doing a bit of backyard blitz landscaping that involves hauling a trailer load of railway sleepers to his house with a mate. Trouble is, the friend is recovering from a motorcycle accident and needs a break. Mr Bump doesn’t do waiting well, so he decides to unload solo. All goes well until the tail end of one of the sleepers, the largest of the lot, jams against another piece of timber in the trailer. Mr Bump gives it a heave and it jerks free, all three metres of it. The tail end hits the ground so violently that Mr Bump’s end leaps from his grip and lands on his foot. He hops about for a moment, relieved that he has workboots and not thongs on. He drags the sleeper down the driveway, limping. He fully unloads the trailer and sends his friend home. Then, when Mr Bump stops for lunch, he takes the boot off. The foot swells. So much so that the x-rays just show a swollen mess. A CT-scan 5 days later reveals at least two broken bones.

Anzac Day 2008
Setting: Home office/bedroom to be

Mr Bump is shifting furniture between rooms. The piano has castor wheels but they just chew into the floorboards. Solution. Lift the piano, slide a folded towel underneath and then slide the instrument much easier. QED. So Mr Bump lifts the piano up and bends slightly to check the towel is in position. There’s a sharp twang and it’s not a piano string. Back spasms begin.

Australia Day 2009
Setting: Campsite beside surf beach

Mr Bump is body-boarding. The waves are serious dumpers, perhaps 2 metres high. Catch them at the right moment and you get a brilliant ride in. Miss the moment and you get pounded into shallow water. Mr Bump is waiting, displaying some semblance of patience. Beyond the break the waves rock gently, lulling him into a meditative state. He chooses a wave, paddles forward. Too fast. He falls 2 metres off the face of the wave, head first. At one point his ankles seem to pass his ears and he wonders whether a spine should bend that far backwards. Then his face hits the sand, his nose seems to splatter and a meteor field flashes through his vision. He wonders if his back has snapped. Thankfully, no. His face is ripped from forehead to chin. He has two fat lips and a swollen nose. The lifeguard says Mr Bump is lucky; a surfer snapped his leg the previous day. The surf is smaller the next day. Mr Bump’s face is significantly larger.

February 2009
Setting: Suburban doctor’s consultation room

Mr Bump catalogues his injuries. The doctor advises him to stay home and sit on the couch on public holidays. X-rays reveal spinal “wear and tear” typical of an older person but Mr Bump bounces back to a full recovery.

Christmas Holidays – Jan 2010
Setting: A modern beach-house

Mr Bump is sitting at a dining table inside a newly renovated beach house. A child enters the room, carefully closing the six-foot screen doors. Mrs Bump (AKA Mrs Sensible or Mrs Ask Someone to Help You With That or Mrs You Shouldn’t be Doing That) screams. One of the screen doors somehow makes a bid for freedom, leaving its rails and falling gracefully toward the dining table. Mr Bump’s head saves the table from damage. The timber frame hits him mid-scone and leaves a 4 cm gash. There’s blood, headaches, dizziness and neck pain. Mr Bump looks like he’s been in a pub brawl.

Mr Surgeon (standing conveniently nearby) says wound not quite deep enough to merit hospitalisation and does impro surgery using glue and Mr Bump’s hair to tie the scalp together. Mr Bump turns Mr Grumpy for a while – cranky he can get hurt sitting down but mighty pleased the Junior Bumps had just left the table. And that the door wasn’t solid timber or glass.

Landlord inspects the house and determines that while this occurrence has never been reported before, the door is indeed faulty and could fall out easily. No mention of the word “sorry”. He opts for the phrase “unfortunate accident”. Unfortunately Mr Bump is sore and can’t swim for most of his holiday.

Next up?

Most story arcs would see Mr Bump learn something. Take up meditation, dress only in bubble wrap and strive to keep his skin intact. Then again, perhaps the safety-first-at-all-costs approach is void if he can get injured indoors without demonstrating any obvious stupidity.

Maybe he curses the fates and rebels, switching to BASE jumping, ice-hockey and Paris-Dakkar racing.

But what should he do before his lesson is learned? Should he engage Ms Injury Lawyer and seek compensation?

Over to you, dear readers. What’s next for Mr Bump?

And here’s wishing you a safe and serene Australia Day 2010.


After I finished reading Tim Winton’s Breath I was so intoxicated by the thought of surfing that I wanted to buy a real surfboard and go searching for the ultimate wave. Let’s just say that after a weekend of camping at beautiful Kennett River, I’m rethinking that aspiration.

We were body-boarding big (2 metre plus) waves and getting massive rides, paddling out slowly through the dumpers and doing it all over again. Great fun.

Until I mis-timed a wave and nose dived. Literally. I hit the bottom headfirst at cannon ball speed, scraping my face from forehead to chin and possibly breaking my nose (confirmation pending). I must have looked a mess because friends suggested I put a towel over my head so I didn’t freak the kids out. There was lots of blood. My back is sore, my two fat lips are gradually deflating but my nose is still about a third bigger than usual.

But I’m lucky. I know of people killed or left with major spinal injuries, even quadraplegia, from similar accidents. A couple of days ago, at the beach where I was surfing, a man broke both bones in one leg and tore ligaments from his knee in similar waves.

I love the sea and I’ll surf again. But I reckon I’ll stick to smaller waves and my boogie board.

UPDATE: Nose swollen and sore but apparently not broken. Spine compacted and crunchy. Reckon I’m a few centimetres shorter. Pride dented. What a goose.